Samoa Police On Guard After Teen ‘Rampage’ In Vaigaga

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Youth from Vaiusu allegedly attacked villagers, property

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 4, 2012) – Seven Samoa police vehicles were seen at Vaiusu-uta yesterday morning with more than twenty police officers, searching for the alleged troublemakers of Vaiusu village.

The youth members of Vaiusu village and Vaigaga village clashed on Wednesday, but the rampage escalated on Thursday night when more houses and cars were damaged and personal property stolen at Vaigaga.

Victims of the stoning battle on Wednesday and Thursday reported that it was the scariest time of their lives.

Roy Fereti of Vaigaga who received twelve stitches on his head as a result of the stoning said he thought it would be his last day on earth.

"I was at a friend’s house when I received a call that most of my family’s houses had been attacked by some youths from Vaiusu.

"So I went to my house immediately because my 82 year old mother was in the house at that time and it was shocking to see more than 50 young men destroying furniture, windows and also the doors of my house," Mr. Fereti said.

He said he was thankful that when he arrived at his house, his mother and all his family members including six children had fled.

He revealed that he couldn’t recognize the men because it was so dark.

"This was about 12 midnight, and I could hear women at our neighboring houses screaming for help and the sound of rocks, banging on different houses nearby, were like bombs."

Mr. Fereti said he was first hit by a rock on his head and then all over his body. There were a lot of them hiding in the bushes and they kept on throwing the rocks at him.

"Thankfully, they stopped when some members of another house nearby came to my aid and by that time I felt like dying, my whole body was in pain," he said.

He said these young men were also targeting his other cousin’s house by the name of Tomasi.

Mr. Fereti said Mr. Tomasi doesn’t live in his house anymore due to his concerns about the safety of his three children and his wife.

A vehicle belonging to the church minister of Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) Vaigaga which was parked at Mr. Tomasi’s house, was destroyed by these young men from Vaiusu who he says broke in and took a stereo, destroyed the windows, chairs and also most of the inner and outer doors of Mr. Tomasi’s house. Mr. Fereti said these young men are alleging that Mr. Tomasi led a group of young men from Vaigaga who stoned a house at Vaiusu on Wednesday night.

"I did not think this matter would get this serious because Vaiusu and Vaigaga is one village," Mr. Fereti said.

He said his family have left their house at Vaiusu and will live at Vaitele-Fou while awaiting the outcome of the investigations by their village and the police. Toleafoa Lovine who witnessed the incident said there were more than fifty young men. "They threw rocks on my family’s houses nearby and I could hear some of my family members screaming for help," Toleafoa said. "I’m only thankful that no one died. "This incident has given the good name of our village a bad reputation," she said. About four houses at Vaigaga were damaged as well as four vehicles. There was also personal property stolen during the rampage. Apelu Pritchard was too distressed to go into details about the Thursday incident. He said his whole family has now moved to Afega and the children in particular don’t want to live at their home at Vaigaga because of safety concerns.

Mr. Pritchard, who is a mechanical engineer said vehicles in his workshop were totally damaged due to this incident.

"I had three vehicles damaged as a result of this stoning incident, but it’s sad that two of these cars are not mine, they were brought here to be fixed," he said. "My father and my sister and seven kids were in my house during the time of the incident."

"When I arrived from a friend’s house, I could see more than fifty young men in the dark throwing rocks at our house. It was like watching a violent movie," he said.

He said this incident went on for hours and all the neighboring families had a sleepless night.

When the Sunday Samoan visited their homes many of these families were not there; they’ve relocated to different villages to await the outcome of police investigations.

However, a senior matai of Vaiusu, Ulugia Poe said a reconciliation meeting was held on Friday evening between matai of Vaigaga and some senior matai of their village and some of the young men from both villages who were involved.

Ulugia said most of these young men apologised to the alii and faipule of Vaigaga and Vaiusu and promised that there would be no more fighting.

The reason for this clash between two villages cannot be confirmed by Ulugia but he said the alii and faipule of Vaiusu will host another meeting this week to further discuss the problems, which are apparently not new.

"We just hope this will be the last incident and that these young men involved understand that what they’ve done has given both villages a shameful reputation," Ulugia said.

It was not possible to get a comment from the mayor of Vaiusu and also Vaigaga but Assistant Police Commissioner, Leaupepe Fatu Pula confirmed that police will continue to search for all the youth involved and they will face punishment for what they did.

He said about 20 males ranging in age from 10 years old to men in their 20’s were captured by police yesterday morning and are in custody as investigations continue.

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